For some, this is the start of a 3 day weekend; for others, just the normal weekend craziness. Whichever it is, it’s been a busy week. I’ve been accumulating a lot of articles of interest, but none of them have themed into groups of three, or proved to be the start of a single-subject rant. So let’s toss them into the crock-pot of discussion, and see if we can at least come up with a thread to connect each to the next:
- CSI: Cyber Under the Microscope. I miss the mothership of CSI:, although it had gotten a bit predictable towards the end. It’s current lovechild, CSI: Cyber, is just wrong. For someone who works in cyber, however, I can’t keep my eyes off of it. On one hand, it does do a good job of educating the public of some of the threats that are out there. This is a good thing. What’s bad is how they do it: usually by amping the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Distrust) and using techniques that aren’t to the level they show. Last week’s show with the air traffic control system is a great example, and Ars Technica rips it to shreds.
- Ripping Apart Los Angeles. Speaking of ripping things to shreds, let’s look at how Los Angeles has been rippped apart. I love Los Angeles history, and so a recent article from KCET caught my eye. It explored how Orange County split off from Los Angeles. The southern part of the state used to be divided into just a few very large counties: San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Mariposa. Over time the split, with Los Angeles giving birth to Kern, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange. This article explores the last split, which created the “orange curtain”.
- Los Angeles History Podcast. Speaking of Los Angeles: By the way, if you like Los Angeles, Boing Boing just highlighted a really interesting podcast on LA History. I’ve listened to a few episodes, and it is really good.
- History of the 3.5mm Plug. Speaking of History: History is fascinating. Sometimes you use something every day, and you don’t realize how old it is. Take, for example, the 3.5mm plug you use for your headphones. The history of that plug goes back to 1878 and the quarter-inch plug (6.35mm). It was originally designed for use by operators in old-fashioned telephone switchboards, plugging and unplugging connections. They needed secure connections that could be easily inserted and removed.
- iPhone 7 Rumors. Speaking of 3.5mm connectors: The interest in the 3.5mm connectors comes from the fact that Apple now wants to get rid of the plug in the iPhone 7. PS: There’s also a rumor they will take the iPhone 7 to 256GB, but I’m not sure that’s much greater than the 160GB classic, given the requisite app storage, photos, and other crap that memory shares space with. Still, it might entice the remaining classic audience.
- Unlocking the Moto X. Speaking of phones, news came out this week that Lenovo was dropping the Motorola name and moving to using just Moto and Lenovo. Moto used to be a great phone to have, because they kept is updated. That promise isn’t always kept, and so Motorola is offering a bootloader so you can unlock your Verizon Moto X 2014-generation, and update the OS. I’m not sure I’m going to do it.
- Name Changes. Speaking of name changes, here are two more of interest. GE is selling their appliance business to the Chinese company Haier. Supposedly, they will still market under the GM name. Also in the news is Yosemite National Park, which is proposing changing the name of many historic lodges and areas because of a trademark dispute with a prior concessionaire. This one is really exciting the public, who are up in arms about a private company claiming they own the rights to “Curry Village” or “Ahwanee”. The trademark dispute is an example of ancillary damage: the result of a contract that included intellectual property.
- Ancillary Damage. Speaking of ancillary damage: In all these well publicized crimes on the internet, we think a lot about the victims and the people that committed the crime. We don’t think about the ancillary damage: the damage to the family of the criminal. Here’s a great example of that: a woman whose husband (unbeknowst to her) went out and raped two other women. He was convicted, but her life was destroyed.
- Fighting Back. The author in the previous link fought back, and speaking of fighting back, let’s look at a new honeybee technique: biting back. Keeping honeybees healthy has become a challenge for beekeepers. One main reason is a threat that has been wiping out bees since the late 1980s: the varroa mite: a new breed of honeybee that bites the legs off of the mites. This is part of a larger breeding technique to create bees that will survive.
- Broccoli and Dogs. Speaking of breeding programs, have you ever realized that broccoli is a dog? I learned this listening to the latest Surprisingly Awesome podcast, which was about broccoli. I learned that broccoli, cauliflower, all the kales, all the collard greens, brussel sprouts, all the cabbages, and kohlrabi are actually the same species of plant, just bred for different characteristics.
- Viewing Fat Differently. Speaking of science and food, this weeks Science Friday had an interesting discussion about why we need body fat. It talked about how fat is an organ, the purposes that it serves, and most importantly, how we might just need to retrain our body so it doesn’t think it needs to store the energy in fat.
- The Gut Microbiome. Speaking of diets, more and more information is coming out about the gut microbiome. New research is showing how our western diets (with all our junk and processed foods) are destroying our gut microbiomes, potentially in non-recoverable ways.
- Science Games. Speaking of destroying things and science, here’s an interesting quickie (and read the comments for more): using the periodic table to play battleship.
- The Dragon Cancer. Speaking of games, I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of a new videogame: That Dragon Cancer. The Reply All podcast recently had a fascinating episode on the origins of that game.
- Science Themes Stamps. The game That Dragon Cancer serves as a memorial to a lost child, and speaking of memories: commemorative stamps serve to memorialize and celebrate things. This year is seeing the release of lots of stamp remembering the successes of the space exploration program. Cool.
- Weather Apps. Speaking of cool (I didn’t say these would always be strong connections 😏 ), here’s a list of some good Android weather applications.
- Windows 10 Nagware. Speaking of weather, I’m sure some of you are debating whether to move to Windows 10. Perhaps you think it is all wet. Perhaps you’re just tired of the nagware. Although Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 on more and more users, this week brought information on how to finally turn off the Windows 10 nagware window (and also here).
Lastly, I’m sure you think I’m crazy in the head for trying to thread all these disparate articles together. Speaking of crazy in the head: how’s this for a headline: “Doctors dismissed his pain as migraines. Then they said he had 24 hours to live.” Did that get your attention? It got mine. The connected article was about something I mentioned last week: undetected subdural hematomas. Scary.