A Virtual Witches Brew of News Chum


Are you scared yet? You might be after reading this collection of news chum:

  • From The Sexy Nurse. You’ve seen them everywhere: the “Sexy” (insert your noun here) costumes. I wrote about some of them recently. You probably don’t know about the company that made them, though. Leg Avenue. It was going with shorter skirts that transformed Leg Avenue from a small company that made leggings and lingerie into a dominant force in the Halloween costume business. How, by bringing in the “sexy”.
  • The Cars Have Ears. Back when I was in high school, I had a friend who liked to wrap his head in aluminum foil to avoid the radiation from the aliens. Don’t know whatever became of him. But aluminum foil — is still useful for wrapping things. For example, this article recommends that you wrap your car keys in aluminium foil.  Why? Your car is always listening. Not for your voice, like the Amazon Echo or Siri, but for an electronic signal, such as the coded “unlock” signal from your electronic key fob. If it’s a newer car model, you might not have to press any buttons; just approach your car and the doors will unlock automatically. In some cars, the engine will even turn on. If someone can copy and duplicate that signal, who needs the physical key? Scared yet?
  • First, Vocal Fry. Now NPR Voice. A while back, everyone was in a panic because vocal fry was everywhere. Be scared again. This time, it is NPR voice. This is a characteristic of NPR and many podcast announcers that derive from NPR. In NPR voice, in addition to looser language, the speaker generously employs pauses and, particularly at the end of sentences, emphatic inflection. A result is the suggestion of spontaneous speech and unadulterated emotion. The irony is that such presentations are highly rehearsed, with each caesura calculated and every syllable stressed in advance.
  • What Happens To My Accounts When I Die? The answer, if you don’t do anything, is that they become zombie accounts, alive but with no life behind them. How to prevent this? Make sure you share your password with someone you trust. Ideally, collect your passwords in a password manager, and store the password to that account in a safe place (such as with your spouse, in her password manager, while you store hers). Leave them in escrow with your lawyer. Put them in the pantry with your cupcakes. Oops, wrong song.
  • Your Friendships Will Change. One side effect of getting older is that your friendships change. All those close friends from childhood. Most are different than your adult friends. I think I have, perhaps, one close friend from elementary school days, with a few more on the acquaintance side. I have perhaps a handful from High School. Here’s the explanation of why friendships change when you become an adult.
  • Will You Die of A Heart Attack? You probably have a better chance not to die thanks to the contributions of Dr. Walter S. Graf, who died this week. Graf was a cardiologist who who helped establish the modern system of paramedic emergency care. Alarmed by high death rates and encouraged by new technology, a small group of pioneering physicians started equipping ambulances with defibrillators and paramedics who knew how to use them. Graf was former chief of staff for the Daniel Freeman Hospital. In the 1960s, he established what was thought to be the West Coast’s first dedicated coronary care units there and later created the groundbreaking Daniel Freeman Paramedic Training Program. In 1999, it merged with the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care. In 1969, Graf, who was then president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Heart Assn., converted a white Chevy van into a “mobile critical care unit.” How much of an influence was it? Consider that the TV series Emergency started in 1972, a mere 3 years after Graf created the idea.
  • Scared About Running Out of Water. Ever hear that old adage “water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink.”? Scientists have discovered a gigantic ocean of water 400 miles towards the center of the earth. It could fill our oceans 3 times over. The problem: You can’t just drill down and get it. But due to it, we have our oceans.
  • Satellites Falling from the Sky? First there was Skylab. A really big thing to fall from the sky. Then more and more. Now we have smallsats and cubesats… and according to this article, thumbsats. A “ThumbSat” is controlled by a tiny circuit board and carries an experiment that is just 48 mm x 48 mm x 32 mm across at most and weighing around 25 grams (0.055lb).  The mission is cheap — about $20,000 US for an experiment — it will only last about eight to 10 weeks in orbit. This is long enough to do some science, but short enough to carry just a tiny battery. The payload is designed to be in a low enough orbit to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere shortly after finishing, to avoid becoming space junk.