Why do some people sneeze in the sun?

I thought everyone sneezed when they walked out of a building into the bright sun. But it turns out only one in ten people have the genetic condition called "photic sneeze reflex." In this video, we learn more about photic sneeze reflex and why some of us sneeze in the sun. The current hypothesis is that the brain of people who have photic sneeze reflex misinterprets bright light as an irritant in the nose, which triggers a sneeze.

San Francisco's poop-on-the-streets heat map

Over 20,000 reported cases of crap on the streets of San Francisco wins it a funny smelling crown.

Via KRON4:

San Francisco has been named the 'doo-doo' capital of the United States with 20,899 poop complaints reported in 2017, according to RealtyHop.

RealtyHop did a comparison of 311 poop complaints in Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco.

This study includes dog and human poop sightings.

While 2017 was the worst year on record in San Francisco, research shows that 2018 is on track to beat that.

The 'Doo-Doo Map' from RealtyHop shows the which neighborhoods have the most poop complaints in the city.

Don't blame the dogs, tho:

San Francisco Department of Animal says that the city has 120,000 dogs, but the real issue is the number of homeless people without shelter.

The research conducted says there is no correlation between a neighborhoods home value and poop complaints.

According to the study, the poop crisis in San Francisco reflects a social crisis and the problem has continued to increase since 2011.

Someone buys BrettKavanaugh.com and creates a site for sexual assault survivors

Brett Kavanaugh is a name that leaves a bad taste in many mouths, but the name is now being put to good use with BrettKavanaugh.com (or .org/.net). Because the new Supreme Court Justice, accused of sexual assault by three women, didn't think to buy BrettKavanaugh.com, it's now a site for sexual assault survivors. WE BELIEVE SURVIVORS it says as its opener. And then:

The start of Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure on the Supreme Court may look like a victory for one interest group or another.

But, more importantly, it is putting a national focus on the issue of sexual assault – and how we as a country can and should do more to prevent it and to support those who have experienced it.

This past month, thousands of survivors came forward to tell their stories. We applaud your bravery. We believe you.

The site links to outside resources, including End Rape on Campus, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

According to Mashable, "The domains were purchased by an organization called Fix The Court, which pushes for accountability and transparency in the Supreme Court."

Image: by CSPAN - https://www.c-span.org/video/?181538-1/judicial-nominations, Public Domain, Link

Potato chips that taste like Christmas trees

British grocer Iceland (yes, that's really its name) is not messing around with "autumn" and "pumpkin spice." How pedestrian! They're headed straight for the taste of December 25th with their "Luxury Christmas Tree Flavour Salted Hand-Cooked Crisps." Yup, they've made potato chips that taste like pine trees.

What gives the chips, sorry crisps, that distinctive Christmas tree flavor? Pine salt and pine oil, according to the ingredients.

A bag costs just £1 (approx. $1.30) but it's only available in the UK (for now).

(Extra Crispy)

Thanks, Kent!

Five-story-high spikes of ice could make it difficult to land on Jupiter moon

Jupiter's frozen moon Europa has a massive ocean below the surface that could potentially harbor life. To find out, NASA is in the early stages of building a robotic lander to explore the moon in the mid-2020s. Now though, Cardiff University researcher Daniel Hobley and colleagues suggest that touching down on Europa could be tricky due to fields of massive ice spikes jutting up as high as 50 feet. From Science:

Such spikes are created on Earth in the frigid tropical peaks of the Andes Mountains, where they are called “penitentes,” for their resemblance to devout white-clad monks. First described by Charles Darwin, penitentes are sculpted by the sun in frozen regions that experience no melt; instead, the fixed patterns of light cause the ice to directly vaporize, amplifying minute surface variations that result in small hills and shadowed hollows. These dark hollows absorb more sunlight than the bright peaks around them, vaporizing down further in a feedback loop.

From the research paper in the scientific journal Nature:

We estimate that penitentes on Europa could reach 15 m in depth with a spacing of 7.5 m near the equator, on average, if they were to have developed across the interval permitted by Europa’s mean surface age. Although available images of Europa have insufficient resolution to detect surface roughness at the multi-metre scale, radar and thermal data are consistent with our interpretation. We suggest that penitentes could pose a hazard to a future lander on Europa.

Intel accused of commissioning rigged CPU benchmarks

Intel reportedly published rigged benchmarks designed to make its new i9 chips look better than the competition, while holding tech media to an embargo on publishing reviews or independent tests.

Intel — or to be precise, a company Intel hired to create a whitepaper on Core i9 gaming performance — has crossed that line. According to Forbes, Intel contracted with Principled Technologies to distribute a whitepaper containing various claims about gaming performance between Intel’s upcoming Core i9-9900K and Core i7-8700K and the AMD Threadripper 2990WX, 2950X, and Ryzen 7 2700XSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce. With AMD having surged into competitive positioning in the past 18 months and Intel taking heat from its 10nm delays, Chipzilla has every reason to push a narrative that puts it in the driving seat of gaming. But Intel is using this whitepaper to claim that it’s up to 50 percent faster than AMD in gaming based on Ashes of the Singularity in particular, and that’s where the problems start. The Intel results are somewhat higher than we’d expect, but the AMD CPUs — particularly the Ryzen 7 2700X — are crippled.

The wheeze, as described, is simple enough: the AMD-based test rig was thrown together with stock parts and inappropriate software settings, whereas the Intel system was rigorously customized and optimized, with this fancypants $70 cooling fan installed. Then they restricted tests to settings and resolutions that favor Intel's chips.

Intel seems to be in more trouble than it's been in for years. As for the press, when we honor embargos after finding another source for the news or finding out that it's bullshit, it's not really an embargo: it's just an NDA, and we're doing PR work for free.

I like the name of the third-party benchmarking company Intel hired, Principled Technologies. I'm considering starting Honest Bob's Benchmarks and going into competition with them.

These Mac 'n' Cheese Candy Canes are selling out fast

If you were thinking of getting a box of Archie McPhee's Mac & Cheese Candy Canes, get on it.

After a post on @junkfoodmom in mid-September, their cheesy yellow-and-white striped candies started becoming popular ("This one isn’t bad! Smells like cheese and tastes like Mac n cheese but the sweetness overpowers the flavor eventually so it’s doable."). Since then, the candy has been covered all over the internet and even landed a spot in the print version of People magazine. Now, because of its "extreme popularity, Archie McPhee has had to limit its sales of the canes to one box per person.

I asked the company's Director of Awesome David Wahl why he thought they took off like they did and he wrote back,

We actually thought Clamdy Canes would be more popular. Turns out mixing two things people actually like together gets people more excited than actually trying to gross them out. (As we should have learned from the Bacon Candy Canes and Pickle Candy Canes.)

I think we became the “I dare you to try this” food of the moment (and of Christmas!).

Personally, I can’t wait for all the videos of kids trying the Mac and Cheese Candy Canes that Santa brought them.

Get a box while you can for $5.95/each. If they do end up selling out, don't sweat it. There's plenty of those Clamdy Canes (their clam-flavored candy canes) to go around.

Seth Godin's Akimbo podcast is definitely worth a listen

I generally don't listen to podcasts. It's not that I don't want to, it's that it's difficult for me because a) I'm not good at multi-tasking (listening and writing do not go hand in hand) and b) I don't have a commute. But I do make exceptions, especially when a podcast has been recommended to me.

The rotten thing, in this case, is that I can't remember who to thank for recommending Seth Godin's podcast to me. I took two trips to SoCal in the past two weeks, one by car and one by train, and got hooked on Akimbo. I listened to as much of it as I could while watching the beautiful state of California fly by me.

It's about how to change culture and it's terrific.

Akimbo is an ancient word, from the bend in the river or the bend in an archer's bow. It's become a symbol for strength, a posture of possibility, the idea that when we stand tall, arms bent, looking right at it, we can make a difference.

Akimbo's a podcast about our culture and about how we can change it. About seeing what's happening and choosing to do something.

The culture is real, but it can be changed. You can bend it.

Now, I think of Seth Godin as a marketing guy, and he is. But this podcast is something more. It goes beyond that. I guess what I'm saying is that I think it would be interesting to non-marketing folks.
. As I listened to it, I took down pages and pages of notes, occasionally stopping the recording to reflect how his lessons apply to me and my work.

For example, his episode on origin stories got me thinking about what I've told myself about how I got to be who I am, what choices I've made as a result, and how much of that story and those choices have informed my whole life's journey.

Again, it's called Akimbo. It's in its second season now (it started in February of this year), so there's plenty of content to binge on. You don't have to start at the beginning like with other podcasts but I would. I did. Each episode is about 20 minutes long.

Put your faith in American Gods Season 2

As a rule, I'll watch pretty much anything with Ian McShane in it, from Lovejoy to Deadwood to Game of Thrones. American Gods? It's definitely on the list. I can't wait to see what Season 2 has in store... but I'm worried. With the exit of a number of key players that made the first season of the series as watchable as it was, I don't know what we're going to get this time. That said, having Neil Gaiman go hands on with Season 2 gives me hope.

Will it be more of the same, a new found triumph or a bit of television that will fade from memory as soon as its watched?

We'll have to wait until 2019 to find out.

Cat lover sets out to prove dogs not special

Mysteries of the universe.

Via the NYT:

“I was getting a number of papers showing how remarkable the things were that dogs could do,” he said. When it came to other animals, though, scientific studies on intelligence barely trickled in, despite evidence to suggest that horses, chimpanzees and cats had tricks of their own. “Almost everything a dog claimed to do, other animals could do too,” Dr. Lea said. “It made me quite wary that dogs were special.”

Sure, there is Chaser, a Border collie from Spartanburg, S.C., who was trained to understand 1,022 nouns. (His owner, John Pilley, a scientist who studied canine cognition, recently died.) Before that was a Border collie named Rico who learned to recognize the names of 200 items. But beyond those examples, Dr. Lea wondered: Had dog lovers (and scientists, for that matter) imbued their pets with extraordinary capabilities they did not possess?

To be fair, Dr. Lea said he was a cat person. Still, he and Britta Osthaus, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University in Britain, set out to test the hypothesis.

They compared dog cognition with members of three similar groups: carnivores, social hunters and domestic animals. Among the animals they studied were wolves, cats, chimpanzees, dolphins, horses and pigeons. What they found, Dr. Lea said, was that “dog cognition does not look exceptional.”

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