Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Technology for the Win

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jul 22, 2017 @ 7:15 am PDT

Here are three interesting uses of technology that I’ve seen come across my various feeds lately:

  • Cats without the Litterbox. Do you love cats for the relaxing purr, but hate cleaning litter boxes? Are you allergic to cats but still find the sound relaxing. Problem solved. The Internet has a cat, and it is ready and willing to purr just for you.
  • Travel Tips. I regularly bemoan the fact that kids these days can’t read maps. They are addicted to their GPS and navigation apps. But here’s a cool navigation thing for when you don’t have real experience: Google Maps will now tell you the best time to leave to avoid traffic to your destination.
  • Finding Counterfeits. People who operate pawn shops have a big problem: counterfeits. They have no control over their supply chain (no SCRM here), so that Gucci handbag that was brought in might not be the real thing. Luckily, technology helps. There’s now an app/camera combination that can examine a handbag (or other products) to determine their authenticity. Entrupy’s microscopic camera device is used in conjunction with the Entrupy app on a Apple device to take images of handbags, its seams, its inner fabric and any serial number or date code in the bag. Artificial intelligence algorithms analyze the images to determine authenticity, and results are received in real time. Entrupy backs up the authentication service with a financial guarantee. If a bag is deemed to be authentic and later is discovered to be fake, Entrupy will cover any financial loss. Entrupy plans to enter the shoe authentication sector next. Shoes such as Air Jordans, Yeezys and others can fetch hundreds to thousands of dollars on the resale market.
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Food, Medicine, and Science

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Jul 21, 2017 @ 11:25 am PDT

Today’s lunchtime news chum post brings you three interesting recent reports related to food and medicine:

  • Artificial Sweeteners. Obesity is a growing problem in the world — although the issue should really be not the size, but the health of the individual. For the longest time, people believed that “diet” products were (a) good for you, and (b) helped you either lose or not gain weight. Increasingly, we’re believing and discovering otherwise. Specifically, a recent analysis of data from 37 studies has shown that artificial sweeteners are associated with weight gain and heart problems. After looking at two types of scientific research, the authors conclude that there is no solid evidence that sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose help people manage their weight. And observational data suggest that the people who regularly consume these sweeteners are also more likely to develop future health problems, though those studies can’t say those problems are caused by the sweeteners.  In other words, if you are going to have something sweet, have the real sugar.
  • Carbohydrates. If you have tried to lose weight, you know how it is. Those carbs call to you. Here’s an explanation of why it is so hard to cut carbs. The answer is: Insulin. It directly links what we eat to the accumulation of excess fat and that, in turn, is tied to the foods we crave and the hunger we experience. It’s been known since the 1960s that insulin signals fat cells to accumulate fat, while telling the other cells in our body to burn carbohydrates for fuel. By this thinking these carbohydrates are uniquely fattening. As insulin levels after meals are determined largely by the carbohydrates we eat — particularly easily digestible grains and starches, known as high glycemic index carbohydrates, as well as sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup — diets based on this approach specifically target these carbohydrates. If we don’t want to stay fat or get fatter, we don’t eat them. This effect of insulin on fat and carbohydrate metabolism offers an explanation for why these same carbohydrates, are typically the foods we crave most; why a little “slip,” as addiction specialists would call it, could so easily lead to a binge.Elevate insulin levels even a little, and the body switches over from burning fat for fuel to burning carbohydrates, by necessity. In other words: The more insulin you release, the more you crave carbs.
  • Expiration Dates. We’ve all been taught to throw away stuff that is expired. Food, medicine, grandparents. If it is expired, throw it away. But it turns out, that’s really bad advice and a waste of money. Food dates rarely are true expiration dates: most are “best by” dates and the food remains perfectly fine and nutritional, and for some, the printed date can be overtaken by poor handling. A study recently released shows that medicine expiration dates are also meaningless. A cache of medicine was recently found in a hospital from the late 1960s, and it was tested for efficacy. Of the 14 drugs, 12 were as potent as when they were manufactured.  Both of these findings point to needed better rules on “expiration dates” to avoid waste and early unnecessary disposal; it also should teach you to use your common sense. Look and smell before using. You may discover it is still good.

 

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News Chum: This Is The City…

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Jul 14, 2017 @ 5:52 am PDT

Alas, I’m home sick for another day. So, before I get to attempting to work from home, here’s a bit more of the accumulated news chum. This batch is all about Los Angeles:

  • Damn You, Internet. Just as Amazon has decimated so many retailers, the easy availability of porn has decimated the adult movie theater. Whereas there were once loads of adult theaters across Los Angeles, the city is down to just two. Is this a good thing? Is there some element to the communal experience of an adult theater that we are losing? Having never gone to one … I can’t answer. [But then, who needs the Internet … the next uproar you’ll see has to do with Teen Vogue, which has decided to inform teens by publishing a tutorial on anal sex. I kid you not, and I’ve already started to see the protest posts from the Conservative / Evangelical side on FB]
  • Damn You, Interent (Take Two). The Internet has also impacted journalism, causing many big city papers to see falling readership and resulting in downsizings. The LA Times isn’t immune. As part of the whole mess with Tribune and Tronc, the paper’s real estate, including the storied HQ downtown, went with Tribune (not Tronc) and was sold for the cash. Developers are supposedly keeping the historic core, and developing the rest. Yup. More live / work / retail / office space. As for the Times, some say they are staying there, and some say they are moving to new digs. But then again, no.
  • Good Dog. Short but sweet: The iconic home of the former Tail Of The Pup restaurant has found a new home.
  • Remembering Obama. The LA City Council has voted to rename Rodeo (Road-ee-oh) Road after President Obama. The road is in an area where there are Washington, Jefferson, and Adams Blvds (and who can forget President Venice), so that works. It also eliminates the longstanding confusion with that similar named street in Beverly Hills (Rodeo (Road-ay-oh) Drive). But what of the symbolism of the fact that the road travels through predominately black neighborhoods, and there aren’t similar roads for later Presidents. (Related: There is a pending resolution to name a short stretch of Route 134 after Obama as well, but that name won’t go into common use given the nature of the naming mechanism.)
  • BBQ. Wood Ranch BBQ (not known as a haven for great BBQ) is attempting to master Texas Brisket BBQ. I’m not sure I want to try it.
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Chum Stew: Interesting Links and News You Can Uze … and a bit more

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Jul 13, 2017 @ 3:17 pm PDT

Observation StewI’m home today with a cold, and I have loads of interesting news chum links that have no coherent theme, so let’s just get them out there (h/t to Andrew Ducker for a few of these). Oh, and with each, you’ll get a little bit more.:

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Technology Tidbits

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Jul 06, 2017 @ 11:24 am PDT

Here are some technology news chum items that have caught my eye of late:

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Be Careful What You Wish For….

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Jul 03, 2017 @ 11:20 am PDT

Today’s lunchtime news chum brings two stories where getting what you wanted didn’t quite work out as planned:

  • We Elected A Business Man to run our Government. What Could Go Wrong?

No, I’m not talking about President Trump. Politico Magazine has a detailed analysis of Colorado Springs’ jump into Libertarianism. From the election of a politically-inexperienced Mayor who promised to run the city like a business, to the consequence of the financial crisis. From some initial successes, it was downhill. But the Springs are booming again? Why. A political conservative new Mayor was elected — but this time, one who understood what government is and how it functions.

  • We Wanted a Cheap, Reliable, Air Transportation System Between Domestic Cities. What Could Go Wrong?

The answer is, of course, corporate greed. This is what has led to the Boeing 737 being stretched longer and longer, with more efficient and powerful engines, going longer and longer distances. But there hasn’t been a change in fuselog width or underlying control systems. So we’re just packing more and more in, and squishing everyone closer together.  But don’t panic. The real Boeing 797 may be around the corner. It will be built of new composite materials, but doesn’t look to be a wide-body. Sounds like a 737 with new electronics and a lighter airframe, permitting even more speed and even more distance. How far can you throw a tin can?

 

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Let Me Explain It To You

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jun 28, 2017 @ 8:18 pm PDT

Continuing to clear the news chum, here are some interesting “explanations” I’ve found of late:

 

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Interesting History

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jun 28, 2017 @ 6:56 pm PDT

Now that the Fringe Fest is past, it is time to start clearing out the news chum (if I could just do that with the 70 backed up podcasts!). This first batch all provide some interesting histories:

  • Knitting as an Espionage Tool. This is an older article — I’ve been holding onto it for about a month. It tells the interesting story of spies that used knitting as an information hiding technique. Whether women knitted codes into fabric or used stereotypes of knitting women as a cover, there’s a history between knitting and espionage. When knitters used knitting to encode messages, the message was a form of steganography, a way to hide a message physically (which includes, for example, hiding morse code somewhere on a postcard, or digitally disguising one image within another). If the message must be low-tech, knitting is great for this; every knitted garment is made of different combinations of just two stitches: a knit stitch, which is smooth and looks like a “v”, and a purl stitch, which looks like a horizontal line or a little bump. By making a specific combination of knits and purls in a predetermined pattern, spies could pass on a custom piece of fabric and read the secret message, buried in the innocent warmth of a scarf or hat.
  • Mr. Cellophane. In a previous post, I cited an article about the transformative nature of the elevator on society. Here’s another transformative item: cellophane. It changed the way we buy food by allowing clear packaging. Cellophane packaging let food vendors manipulate the appearance of foods by controlling the amount of moisture and oxygen that touched a product, thus preventing discoloration. In turn, it led to the rise of the self-service store. In a similar vein is plastic. We often think of gasoline and cars when we look at the impact of oil, but there’s an even bigger impact in oil-based plastic. Just imagine a world where there is no plastic. No plastic for food, gloves, medical equipment, insulation, packaging. It’s scary.
  • Hawaiian Pizza. It seems simple doesn’t it: Canadian Bacon and Pineapple on a pizza. It’s heresy to some. But someone had to come up with the idea, and here’s the story of the invention of said pizza. You have tiki culture to thank. According to Atlas Obscura, the rise of tiki culture, as troops returning from the South Pacific after serving in World War II, and the influence of American Chinese food were crucial to inspiring the creator, who sought to unite the sweet and the savory — a mission that ended in him dumping a can of pineapple on a pizza pie.
  • Yellow Cars. When you think of trolley cars and Los Angeles, I’m sure you think of the Red Cars — the cars made famous in Roger Rabbit — the cars that a “conspiracy” supposedly killed (truth: that’s an urban legend). But the Red Cars weren’t the only system. Here’s an article on LA’s narrow-gauge Yellow Car system. As opposed to the interurban Pacific Electric, the Los Angeles Railway provided quick, local service in downtown L.A. and nearby communities. For decades, the Yellow Cars’ bells rang as far west as La Brea Avenue and as far north as Eagle Rock, and the trolleys serviced neighborhoods from East Los Angeles to Hawthorne. Though their reach was shorter than that of the fabled Red Cars, the Yellow Cars carried roughly twice as many riders—at its peak in 1924, the Los Angeles Railway served 255.6 million passengers, and the Pacific Electric only 100.9 million.
  • Beauty Remains. Yes, this is SFW. Here’s an interesting little bit of history, wherein Playboy cover girls recreate their iconic covers 30 or more so years on. Guess what? A beautiful woman remains beautiful.
  • Boyle Heights. Lastly, there is currently an exhibition in the Boyle Heights neighborhood celebrating its Jewish history. I’ve been learning this history of late, and it is really fascinating — and it shows the impact of Yiddishists and Workers Movements on the Jewish Community of LA.
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